Do I need more Eastern Front? Conflict of Heroes : Awakening the Bear
My son asked me, “Dad, why do you like to play games with guys in grey jackets fighting guys in brown jackets?”
Which I thought was pretty observant for a 6 six year old. And I really didn’t have much of an answer. So I explained it that he likes to play trains, I like to play wargames. Simple enough I guess, but it kind of stuck with me.
Why the Eastern Front?
Why do I enjoy games like War in the East, or Conflict of Heroes? As most Americans, I was taught at a young age that WW2 started with Pearl Harbor, then there was some bomber shenanigans, and finally the US landed at Normandy and nut-punched Hitler into submission. Short, sweet, and American. Lee Marvin showed us how it was done with John Wayne as backup. Only later did I learn the truth : that a helluva lot more happened on the Eastern Front then I ever knew.
So right there the Eastern Front is new and fresh. Sure I know about Normandy, North Africa, Italy, and Battle of the Bulge. But the Bialystok Pocket? The Kiev Encirclement? All of this is new to me. New means fresh, and fresh is exciting.
But I also think it’s the association with the Western Front. Somewhere in Belgium my Great-Grandfather was killed during the Battle of the Bulge. That makes it, on some level, personal. I’m not just pushing chits or units about but someones grandfather. With the Eastern Front it’s much easier to dissociate away from that and relegate it to Soviets and Nazis. Me, a child of the 80’s, can easily portray the Soviets as bad guys right alongside the Germans.
As I get into more paper wargames I’m exploring more fronts, but I keep coming back to the Eastern Front. It’s big. It’s massive. It’s action packed with Zhukov’s, Timoshenko’s, and tantruming Panzer Commanders. It’s stretched out over years, not just months. But more than anything is the game variety, I’ve got a wealth of systems on paper where digitally I’m a bit more limited.
Conflict of Heroes
Lately I set up Conflict of Heroes and set out to play it and learn it once more. I played a bit of it when I first bought it but after watching Marco the Wargamer, I decided to bust it out again.
I didn’t grow up a player of paper wargames. For me it’s always been the PC, and really still is about the PC. But you can’t deny the variety that GMT, MMP, and Academy Games offer. On any given day I’d probably set out and play Combat Mission or War in the East, but sometimes I wanna look at a map on a table and start pushing NKVD units around. Conflict of Heroes fills that niche. Sure I could go with ASL, but there’s something about NOT having a 200 page manual with enough rules conflicts to make a sadistic lawyer happy.
Interesting enough, I really like firing up these games on Vassal. For those of you not in the know, Vassal allows you to play boardgames on the PC. Sometimes it’s just a map, other times it includes scripts and AI. For CoH it’s some maps, the AP tracks, and not really much easier than using the analog maps. But…
My cat can’t destroy it. I can easily start and stop. It tracks everything, and most importantly, I can play with someone not in the same room. I live in a fairly small town in the midst of a very rural area. My odds of finding an opponent is slim to none. Either I play solitaire, my wife, or someone on the internet. No offense paper game, but I wish you had a better AI.
Now other days come and I bust out that beautiful map, lay it onto a table, lock the cat in the garage, and start pushing chits. The sound of dice on a table can be a beautiful thing.
A Vassal to Digitalism
I’ll be adding some Let’s Plays of boardgames, mostly because with Vassal it’s pretty easy. Much easier than say trying to take photos of a boardgame. Which, no offense 1980’s gamer dude, but your lighting sucks and I can’t make out the chits. Sure it’s a good read, but man, take your photos on Vassal.
One other reason I’ll be doing more boardgames is I literally just dropped like $300 on a variety of used and new games. Washington’s War. Steam. A Victory Denied. Storm over Stalingrad. Panzer. Pendragon. Oh yah baby, someone got a royalty check! On top of that I have a decent amount of board games that look really cool but I rarely have an opportunity to play. (I’m looking at you Paths of Glory)
So this is a call to you, the reader. Do you have Vassal? Do you want to stomp on me and smug about it? Then drop me a line, I’d love to start this out. firstname.lastname@example.org